I work at a large, multinational corporation in the US. Other clarifying details will follow my question.
At my workplace, we have an office, upstairs, a lab downstairs, and a data center contained in the lab itself, as a separate room. Today, a woman (Alice) I work with was taken off a project she was working on with our singular female intern (Babs), cabling some new equipment. A male coworker (Clark) was tasked to replace her. When Alice walked out of the data center, she announced to the room at large, 5 or 6 males including myself, that she was being put on another project, and asked us to listen for yelling from the data center, and that we keep an eye on Clark working with Babs. Because she then came to collect her things that she had left to me, I remarked that I thought Babs was doing fine and could "take care of herself." Alice then told me that she didn't want Clark "taking advantage of any of the interns." This gave me pause for a number of reasons:
- I don't particularly like Clark, he told me outright "I'm a douche bag" today, but I never regarded him as dangerous.
- Being a man myself, I don't see the workplace as particularly sexist or giving reason for worry.
- I do worry a bit now that Alice herself, or other female colleagues may feel uneasy at work when not working with another woman. I am unsure if there is something I could or should do.
- This seems vaguely sexist, though I am unsure on who's part
My two part question: am I reading too much into this, or not enough? In either case, is there an appropriate course of action?
- I am 23 years old, I've worked at this company a little over a year and greatly enjoy it
- Alice is ~35, has been at the company a while, but is new (less than two months) to her and Babs' team
- Babs is perhaps two or three years younger than me, an intern who has been with us roughly two months, and will be here through January
- Clark is roughly my age, and generally unliked; he is constantly strutting his "lab manager" status around the lab, even though he has worked with us less than 3 months, and is almost assuredly on a lower pay grade
- Babs does not seem openly uncomfortable around the office, goes out at night and on weekends with a number of other interns I am good friends with, and was working on her team before Alice
- I took no action, other than to IM my intern who was also working in the data center and ask if Clark was "being annoying" he replied "no more than usual"